Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wedding 101 Part 4 - The Honeymoon!

Some people aren't planning honeymoons any more... and this year is probably the best example of that. So how can you make the break happen while keeping it in the budget?

The easiest is asking for much of it in gifts, because those are inevitable, look into the many creative options you gave give your guests in lieu of placemats, glassware, and picture frames. If you've loaded a wedding website for your guests, include some of these ideas on the "gifts" page or in the literature you mail out, so they know in advance that you'd like to trade gifts in for honeymoon help!

1. Condo, cabin, or RV usage ~ ask for the gifted usage of a lake house, RV, RCI membership week, or employee family discount to help offset the costs of lodging during your stay.

2. Airfare points ~ many of these programs will expire unused airline points, so using them will actually benefit both parties.

3. Activities, dining, etc ~ put a few activities at your honeymoon destination that will encourage your guests to gift something unique. A helicopter ride, kayak trip, or even a favorite restaurant, these were all gifts we posted and were blessed with by friends and family that helped make our Hawaii trip way more affordable for us.

These creative options helped us immensely; we were able to spend more time in Hawaii, visit more islands, and make some amazing memories with these creative options! We hope you can do the same! Don't be afraid to suggest sharing gifts (our sisters went in on a helicopter trip together because it was still quite expensive); or coming up with some great ideas of your own based on what you like to do. If it's camping you like, post your favorite camp site and set your registry to REI. If it's spa luxury you like, plan your honeymoon during the off season to find deals and post your location so friends can purchase massages and treatments for you both.

But most of all, have fun!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wedding Season 101 - Part 3 - DECOR

This was one topic I struggled with for sure... table cloths and color accents? Window decor with light catchers? Hanging lamps or additional lighting? Chair covers? Flowers on the table, tall or short? Placecard colors and font? OMG!

It was overwhelming once we'd decided on our location because the options were limitless and we didn't have a wedding planner to help make those decisions. Personally, I'm more of a simple person, and our budget wasn't limitless (as most people's aren't) so I struggled between wanting to make it beautiful and frankly not giving a damn. :)

So I met myself somewhere in between, and I think so should you...

GENERAL DECOR
First, go back to your colors. What are your bridesmaids wearing, what colors did you choose for flowers, or what are your favorite colors in general? Typically those snappy wedding experts say to stick with only 2-3 colors, unless you want it to look like a circus, and marry (excuse the pun) those colors with your overall theme/season. So if you have an accent color and can afford to bring that into the reception such as runners on the table that match the placecards, then do, especially if your table cloths are white.
We went with white table cloths on the tables, green cloths on the accent tables (cake table, cards table and the photo table, which I'll get to), and green napkins to keep it simple. We used yellow, red and orange flowers on the tables, but kept them low so people could talk over them by floating them in small bowls with water and for ambiance. We also named each table after a local mountain range, using photographs that we took of them. We did not use chair covers, seeing them at other weddings made me want them, but they just seemed frivolous to me; money I'd rather spend on booze!

THE BEST IDEA
As for the photo table, we had some good ideas there I'd like to share. First, we made collages of ourselves with old pictures we had the moms send us to scan. We had them printed professionally on foam board, but you can make a collage a million ways; the point was that it was nice for our guests to see the lives of both of us, especially for the sides of the family that didn't grow up with one of us. We also put old wedding pictures of our parents and grandparents on this table in their own frames. This was one of my favorite additions of the decor for sure. As the night progressed, I watched guests pour in over this table, laughing, pointing, joking, and overall enjoying that we shared our pasts with them.

To keep on the photo theme, we also put table cameras on the tables for fun, and in hindsight, this was an expensive laugh but a good one. I made a collage book of just table camera photos (we had about 20 cameras total, but each cost about $10 total for developing and purchase), but now 3 years later it's the professional shots I still go back to look at. So if your budget is slim, I'd skim this one off, it was funny, but a little frivolous. And in the chat rooms of my photographer peers I've read many a comment with that same sentiment, not as much bang for your buck if you're thinking of doing either-or; definitely don't skimp on hiring a professional photographer. This picture is a perfect example of what we got from our nonpro shooters!

Other quick addition ideas that make the room bright:
1. We toyed with the idea and never used this, but it would have made our sunset even more spectacular if we had! (right) My mom found these hanging decorations that had white butterflies strung together with a crystal prism at the end. She gave us one as a sample and it still hangs on our deck door, catching the light of the sun as it sets in that direction. There were dozens of windows in the reception hall we used, so hanging these throughout the room would have made a great colorful addition.

2. Candles ~ a dear friend made a candle for us with the invitation we sent out, a beautiful touch we though, and it made me think we could have added taller candles throughout for more ambiance. Hindsight is 20-20! The candles we had on the tables were great though, and a lot cheaper than buying taller ones.

3. Cake Options ~ we went with a traditional cake, and this is technically part of the FOOD topic, which I'm skipping entirely because frankly, that's a four parter in itself, but this is a fun topic to play with so I want to think outside the box here... cakes are expensive, and we were pretty set on staying with one ourselves, but one of the best budget wedding ideas I've seen is forgoing the cake and doing cupcakes instead. To give credit where it's due, The Bringuels did this at their wedding and made it look like a cake, tiered and all, but in fall colors on chocolate cakes, it was truly a site of which I didn't photograph unfortunately (the only wedding of 21 we've been to that I forgot my camera!).

4. Last but not least, remember, everyone will be way too drunk to remember whether you had seat covers, matching napkins, or a fancy cake. :) Hopefully.


First three photos courtesy Jessica Maynard Photography

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wedding Season 101, Part 2 - GIFTS

Last week we started a Wedding Season 101 series of helpful hints for brides-to-be. We got married in 2006 and spent an entire year preparing. These tips are just my helpful hints that we discovered along the way for those of you who aren't enlisting the help of a wedding planner.

This week I've got two more ideas for you for the wedding-day party favors. We'd been to over twenty weddings before we got married ourselves, five or six just in the 18 months between our engagement and the I-Dos, so we gathered a good deal of ideas to sort through before we came up with our own. We'd seen rice sachets, seed packets, music cds, and beer cozies, and wanted to give something that people would definitely use but would still remember our wedding by without necessarily being reminded of it with the cheesy text "Andy and Craig's wedding day" on it. We wound up compromising.

1. First was my mother's great idea from her knitting closet. She wanted to give the 3 bridesmaids a shawl in case the weather was cold. Luckily she did because we actually got snow in September! The shawls were gorgeous; black and long and warm, and we gave them to them at the bridal shower so I wasn't the only one opening gifts. We took a picture of us in the shawls as well (I got one too!) and even sent it in to the magazine that mom got the pattern from. They printed it and we all got a copy of the picture.

But if you don't have a crafty relative on hand, buy something unique for the girls that isn't a pink shirt they'll never wear or a cast-iron faery they'll regift to someone else. These are your girls, and they deserve something thoughtful.

2. Second, I wanted to give everyone a gift bag so we started trolling for ideas for those. This took us a long time and wound up being slightly more expensive that we'd have liked, but any one of these ideas is great, so no need to do them all.

We wound up giving small lotion bottles made by a friend of mine, a small sachet of lavender for their pillows at night, a waterbottle with an image of our local mountains and some cheesy text but not much, and maps of the area. Everyone was suprised for the gifts and we still see those waterbottles around too. This was before the big plastic scare of late, so now we'd have to make sure they were BPA free.

We found out where most were staying and dropped the bags off at the hotel with their names on them. For couples, we just used one bag but threw two of everything in.


Next up: Wedding day decor. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mothers Day Ideas

Last week I started a series on Wedding Ideas but realized this weekend I needed to halt that for a week for the most important day of the year: MOTHER'S DAY!

Mom is Number One, so how do we treat her so? Here are some ideas I've gathered over the years of DIY presents as well as those last-minute ideas you can do if it's Friday and you've forgotten to mail the mom's day gift!

First, if you can get something out today, DO. One thing we forget is that you can't mail a card this week and expect it to get there in the usual amount of time. The USPS dubs this week as one of the busiest weeks of the year, second only to the entire month of December, so don't forget to allow for all those extra cards in the mail along with yours!

Now down to the nitty gritty... DIY ideas first.

1. MOM'S RECIPES/COOK BOOK.
The best idea I've heard this year was actually in honor of a mother who had passed away, but I think it's an even better idea for a gift. Take all the recipes that mom has given you and collage them into a cook book with photographs and mementos of your childhood and mom. If you don't have a lot of mom's recipes, you can use grandma's or your own instead.

2. FACE PRODUCTS
From a previous post on making your own face toner and scrub you can make some unique, all-natural, and thoughtful mother's day gifts from your own kitchen cabinets!

3. PHOTO FRAME
The bottom line is that mom loves you and probably doesn't care if you send a present, she just wants to know you love her too... and the best way to say that loud and clear is to put a picture of you and mom in a frame and drop it in the mail. She'll love the frame if it's a nice one, but the point is the effort in sending her a picture of you. Throw a poem on there for the full heart-melt.

LAST MINUTE IDEAS FOR MOMS IN OTHER STATES
Sometimes dates sneak up on us, especially around this time of year, when many have just returned from spring break or the first biking trip, and come home to a big red calendar day they better not forget!

4. DONATION
Mom's got a favorite charity, too, and would love a thoughtful donation to that charity in her name. Here are some ideas in case mom doesn't have a favorite charity:
Adopt A Penguin (Polar Bear, Wolf, etc): This site is Defenders of Wildlife, but if you type in those three words into a search browser, you'll get WWF and 10 more just like it. I like this one because you get a nice packet of stuff for a low price.
Fighting Breast Cancer (Prostate, Skin, etc): My grandmother and aunt have battled breast cancer, and this is a great way to support women even if it's not mom.
Support New Moms: Show mom love by supporting new moms who need help.


THE OLD STANDBYS

FLOWERS
Sure, you know of this one, but do you send them? Once in a while it's just nice to get flowers, and FTD.com can take your money in FL but get mom's flowers to her in NY on the same day. It's definitely better than a phone call. For an added touch, get live plants so your love doesn't fade.

PHONE CALL
But your mom's probably no different from the rest, and she just wants to hear your voice. Pick up the phone.